Major players in the fight for Internet Freedom
Like it or not, Internet freedom is an all-consuming global issue that has provoked interest in affected countries and those watching on the sidelines since the introduction of the Internet to the public in the late 1990s. The matter has undergone a recent resurgence in the headlines, partially due to the net neutrality debate sparked in the United States following the NSA-Edward Snowden scandal, and the media has honed in on a few specific groups of people in the process. For those less familiar with the matter of global impetus the issue has become, here's a basic rundown of the main players fighting to Internet freedom.
Major advocacy groups make outreach effort
In any problem of this size, there are bound to be a number of passionate groups that are vocal opponents of the limiting legislative actions being taken in governments across the world. One of the loudest voices so far has been Save the Internet, a group run by public interest group Free Press, who make their view completely clear for those to donate to and advocate themselves.
"All too often, people in power are making decisions behind closed doors about how the Internet should operate," their home page stated. "The result: policies that could close down the open Internet and threaten our freedom to connect and communicate. It's time for us to reclaim the Internet. We must declare our Internet freedom."
It is groups like Save the Internet and others like the Internet Freedom Coalition and Protect Global Internet Freedom that serves as the organizers for demonstrations in public places, forums for like-minded activists to discuss the issue with their peers and up-to-date information about the state of Internet freedom in countries across the globe. They're the first place the media goes when looking for the opposition's take on news developments, and a valuable tool for active citizens who fight for Internet equality.
Businesses with something to gain
Comcast, Verizon and AT&T have been framed as the villains in Internet freedom debate in the United States, and the governments of highly censored countries like Russia, Turkey and China. While these companies are consistently gone after by the media and advocacy groups, others have become darlings of Internet freedom advocates – among them are powers like Google, Facebook, Twitter and Dropbox.
In stark contrast to the others, these organizations are hailed as those who are in support of the public, though the truth is a little less noble. These companies want internet freedom chiefly because their product will suffer if it is not upheld – Google, Facebook and Twitter are constantly banned to prevent open communication in countries between citizens, and their revenue could stand to increase if the Internet was opened to all equally.
The plight of the everyday citizen
At the end of the day, those who are most affected by a restricted Internet will be the everyday person – that is, the people who will suffer from a lack of equality who cannot afford to keep up with the ever-changing landscape. In countries where free speech is often censored, it can be extremely difficult to make a difference on an individual basis without greatly affecting the consequences being vocal would cause in their everyday life.
For example, BusinessWeek reported on Zhang Jialong, a 26-year-old Chinese blogger who was fired from his job after reaching out to American Senator John Kerry in an effort to raise awareness at the lack of freedom allowed in his home country. Though the action impacted him individually, it made a larger statement about how the government went about silencing those who spoke out against them.
As the Internet freedom debate continues to rage in various capacities throughout the globe, these three unlikely groups will grow in influence and volume as developments persist.